I'm in the middle of MaxDog, a wonderful book by my blogging friend Caryl Moll. Caryl writes of her Golden Retriever Max, who entered her life just prior to a very tumultuous time, filled with uncertainty, anxiety, grief, and depression. Max filled her days with confidence, exuberance, and the kind of special devotion only Goldens can provide and helped her overcome the challenges that interrupted a seemingly idyllic life in South Africa.
I first came to know Caryl two years ago when I stumbled upon her blog, Living Life to the Max. Almost instantly we connected in a way that only people who have shared similar circumstances can understand. Max was her rock during some very bleak days and as I learned more of her story, the more I understood her bond with Max and the tremendous impact he has had on her life.
Like, Max, Duncan entered my life at a difficult time. Just a few months prior to his unexpected arrival I'd lost my grandmother, who I'd been close to and with whose passing I was having an extremely difficult time coming to terms. Max was originally intended to be Caryl's husband's dog just as Duncan was meant to be Ken's. But life has a way of turning things around and soon Duncan and I formed a bond that transcended his relationship with Ken. Not too long after Max arrived Caryl's life was turned upside-down by a series of events beyond her control. And a mere six months after Duncan joined our family I was diagnosed with a debilitating anxiety disorder that changed my entire existence. Duncan was there for me in ways entirely unexpected, and through his guidance I began the long process of rebuilding my life, a task that continues to this day. Max did the exact same thing for Caryl, offering his unconditional love and acceptance, while encouraging her to reenter the world and resume her own life.
I identify with this book in many ways and am thankful I've had the opportunity to read it and grow closer to Caryl, or as close as two people on opposite sides of the planet can grow. Caryl was one of the amazing people who sent me a magic feather last year prior to my trip to New York. While I don't have an autographed copy of MaxDog, I keep the card she included with her feather as a bookmark. In it she wrote, "Remember, courage is not the absence of fear but that special person's ability to embrace it... Fly, Curt, fly!!!" I have cherished it, and the feather, since their arrival, and stop every time I open the book and thank The Universe for putting her into my life.